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Project Management Assignment: Scenarios Based On The Concepts Of Managing Projects

Question

Task:
Project Management Assignment Part A - 3 MODELLING QUESTIONS
Data Table to Be Used for All PART A Questions

Activity

Predecessor

Duration (weeks)

A

None

1

B

A

8

C

A

5

D

A

3

E

B

8

F

B

6

G

C,D

8

H

E

3

I

F

3

J

E,G

5

K

H,I,J

3

L

K

2


Question 1:

  1. Draw the project network diagram (AON) for the following:
  2. What activity is a burst activity?
  3. What activity is a merge activity?
  4. What activities could begin at the same time (i.e. could be carried out in parallel / concurrently)?

Question 2

Activity

ES

EF

LS

LF

TS

FS

A

 

 

 

 

 

 

B

 

 

 

 

 

 

C

 

 

 

 

 

 

D

 

 

 

 

 

 

E

 

 

 

 

 

 

F

 

 

 

 

 

 

G

 

 

 

 

 

 

H

 

 

 

 

 

 

I

 

 

 

 

 

 

J

 

 

 

 

 

 

K

 

 

 

 

 

 

L

 

 

 

 

 

 


  1. Complete the forward and backward pass and compute the total slack for each activity (Use Data Table Provided). Enter the results of your calculations in the above table (ES = earliest start, EF = earliest finish, LS = latest start, LF = latest finish, TS = total slack, FS = free slack)

Question 3: Using Data Table Provided answer the following questions

  1. How long will this project take?
  2. How many critical paths are there?
  3. List each of the critical paths.
  4. What is total slack?
  5. How do you calculate total slack (or total float) for each activity in the network?

Part B - Short Answer Questions

  1. Projects should not be confused with everyday routine, repetitive work. What are the five major characteristics of projects that distinguish them from everyday work.
  2. The technical and sociocultural dimensions of project management are often considered to be “two sides of the same coin”. Explain what is meant by the technical and sociocultural dimensions of the project management process.
  3. Projects can be classified as compliance (and emergency), strategic, and operations projects. Describe each classification.
  4. Describe what is meant by matrix management. What are the advantages of a matrix organisation? What are the disadvantages of a matrix organizations?
  5. What is scope creep? How can scope creep be reduced? Explain with an example.
  6. What is resource levelling/smoothing (within available slack)? What impact does it have on the project duration? Can it increase the project duration? Explain with an example.
  7. What is the definition of risk management? Describe the 4 steps in the process of risk management.
  8. What is the difference between mitigating a risk and contingency planning? Explain with an example.
  9. What is management by wandering around (MBWA)? Is MBWA suitable / sufficient for large projects?
  10. What is the Scrum process? What are the roles and responsibilities of the people involved in the Scrum process?

Answer

Project Management Assignment Part A

Question 1
Answer to a

The AON diagram of the given data table is shown as follows.

AON dia in project man 1

Answer to b
A burst activity is defined as the specific activity that is the immediate predecessor to multiple activities or in other words, multiple activities directly branch out from the burst activity. A burst activity can be considered as the starting point of two or more parallel activities that can be carried out or executed at the same. In the diagram above, activity A is a burst activity as three activities namely B, C and D are its direct successors.

Answer to c
Merge activity is referred to that activity that has multiple predecessors connected to it. It is exactly the opposite to burst activity and it can be considered as the end of point of parallel paths as two or more branches of parallel activities converge into the merge activity. In the diagram above, activity K can be defined as a merge activity as it has three different predecessors namely, H, I and J.

Answer to d
When activities branch out from the same predecessor and do not depend on each other, they could begin at the same time and can be executed in parallel. In the diagram drawn above, activities B and C can begin at the same time and operate in parallel as they branch out from activity A. In another case, if two activities are connected to each other through start-to-start relationship, in that case, they can begin at the same time and operate in parallel.

Question 2

Activity

ES

EF

LS

LF

TS

FS

A

0

1

0

1

0

0

B

1

9

1

9

0

0

C

1

6

4

9

3

0

D

1

4

6

9

5

2

E

9

17

9

17

0

0

F

9

15

13

19

4

0

G

6

14

9

17

3

3

H

17

20

19

22

2

2

I

15

18

19

22

4

4

J

17

22

17

22

0

0

K

22

25

22

25

0

0

L

25

27

25

27

0

0


Question 3

Answer to a
This project will take a total of 27 weeks for completion.

Answer to b
There is only one critical path in this particular project.

Answer to c
The critical path of the project is: A > B > E > J > K > L.

Answer to d
Total slack is defined as the maximum delay that can be allowed for a task without affecting the subsequent tasks in the project. In order words, total slack is the time flexibility that can be offered to a particular task without delaying the successor tasks.

Answer to e
The total slack for each activity in the network is calculated by taking the least value of the difference between early start and late start and the difference between early finish and late finish.

Part B
Answer to 1
Projects are groups of activities executed in a specific order in order to achieve a specific end goal. In some cases, some daily activities can be considered as project but mainly, project is quite different from everyday work. Five major characteristics of project that differentiate it from everyday work are discussed as follows.

One Time Effort – A project is generally a one-time effort carried out to achieve a specific end goal. If this particular effort is repeated in the future to achieve the same or better end goal, it is considered as a separate project. On the other hand, everyday work is a part of the routine that is followed and carried on daily basis by a particular individual or group.

Related Activities – All the activities in a project are related to each other in a specific manner or order unlike everyday work in which, many activities might be unrelated.

End Goals – In any project, there must be one specific end goal. When the project idea is generated, it is always expected to fulfil one specific objective once it is executed and completed. On the other hand, everyday work can have multiple end goals as different types of activities.

Strict Deadlines – Most of the projects have strict deadlines within which, it must be completed. When the project is divided into various activities, each activity is assigned with specific deadlines (flexible or non-flexible). On the other hand, everyday work does not have strict deadlines in most of the cases.

Pre-Identified Outcome – In all the projects, the outcomes are pre-identified. The entire project is conducted in order to fulfil the pre-identified outcome whereas everyday work does not always have any pre-identified outcome or any specific set of activities. Everyday work is carried out randomly with an idea of outcomes but no idea of specific pre-identified activities.

Answer to 2
Technical and socio-cultural dimensions of project management are two very important components of any project that is well planned and executed by an organisation. The technical dimension of the project management refers to the logical approach to any project specifically defining the main components and attributes of a project like duration, scope, budget and others. This dimension deals with only these attributes and the entire project is controlled using this dimension. On the other hand, socio-cultural dimension of the project refers to the component of the project that focuses on the assumptions, behaviors and values that the organisation members share within the project. The socio-cultural dimension is created when a social system is developed for the project – a group of people assigned to work on the project while also following specific sets of values and behaviors. This creates a social system, which may or may not be successful depending on the natures of values and behaviors exhibited by the project team members. These two dimensions are considered to be the two faces of the same coin because without specific and proper balance between the two, the project can never be successful.

Answer to 3
Since there are wide varieties of projects conducted around the world, they can be classified in specific ways in order to different them from each other. One such classification is shown as follows.

Compliance Project – Compliance project is defined as the type of project that is executed for internal changes within the organisation with the end goal to comply with specific laws, rules or guidelines imposed by government or any other regulatory body. Generally, these projects are undertaken when these laws or rules are modified or new ones are added by the regulatory body and the organisation needs to make internal changes in order to comply with them. Generally, these projects are operated with very strict and non-flexible deadlines as the deadlines are provided the regulatory bodies in most cases.

Strategic Project – A project is classified as a strategic project when it is conducted in order to improve performance but at the same time aligning it to the strategic objectives of the organisation. The successes of these projects are specifically measured using key performance indicators (KPIs) and must align with the primary targets and objectives of the organisation.

Operations Project – This classification is applied to projects that are directly related to the external operations of the projects. The purpose of these projects may include fulfilling customer requirements, commercial requirements, business requirements or others. Unlike compliance and strategic projects, operations projects are based on external activities of the organisations and also are externally funded by the customers, sponsors and other entities.

Answer to 4
Matrix management is defined as a specific type of organizational structure in which, some of the individuals / employees are assigned under multiple supervisors or managers. Unlike regular organizational structures where a specific employee report to one specific manager or supervisor, in this case, a specific employee has work duties under multiple supervisors. This type of management is mostly common in cross-functional and cross-business groups where specific business units are not applicable.

The advantages of matrix organisation are as follows.

  • It facilitates collaboration among various departments of the organisation.
  • It promotes communication among different departments of the organisation.
  • It allows the employees to develop multiple skills within the organisation.

The disadvantages of matrix organisation are as follows.

  • The roles of managers and teams are often not clearly defined.
  • Employee performance evaluation becomes extremely difficult.
  • Work overload and poor decision-making may occur on frequent basis.

Answer to 5
Scope creep in projects can be defined as the situation where the actual scope of the project expands due to various factors. In simpler terms, in scope creep, the number of deliverables increase based on the effects of certain factors from the original number that was preplanned. Scope creep may occur due to change requests from customers, lack of proper vision while planning, various issues occurring within the project and others.

There are various ways to reduce scope creep as much as possible. In contract based projects, the contract terms must ensure the customer cannot request changes once the project is initiated as it can result in scope creep. Another way to reduce scope creep is to develop a backup plan early in case of occurrence of scope creeps. Prioritizing communication is also essential to ensure both parties are aware of the situation and are ready to adapt to changes due to scope creep.

For example, let there be a company that will develop a new model of a smartphone and plans all the features prior to the start of the development. However, midway through development, the company may decide to add more features in order to compete in the market and this will result in scope creep. This can be reduced if prior additional funding was planned to accommodate the changes and ensuring they are implemented within the project.

Answer to 7
Any project, irrespective of its nature and scale, can have multiple risks that may have significant negative impact on it. Project managers need to be aware of the risks associated with the project so that he can undertake appropriate mitigation actions to manage these risks. Risk management is a set of actions that are carried out in order to mitigate the identified risks or minimise the possibility of occurrence of the risks.

The four steps in the process of risk management are as follows.

Risk Identification – In this step, all the risks associated with the project are carefully identified. This is a very vital stage as any unidentified risk can result in major damage to the project.

Risk Analysis – In this stage, the risks are analysed and prioritised based on the possibility of occurrence and possible impact on the project. The risk with the highest risk rating (probability x impact) is to be assigned with the highest priority.

Risk Response Plan – Once the risks are prioritised, suitable response plan is to be developed for mitigating each risk with specific actions.

Risk Monitoring and Control – Once the response plan is ready, the project risks are monitored and even there is an event of encountering an identified risk, the response plan is applied for controlling and mitigating the risk.

Answer to 8
Mitigating a risk refers to the action that is undertaken to mitigate a specific risk that has been identified. On the other hand, contingency planning refers to the plan that is developed to combat a situation where the risk has already impacted the project or the project is going wayward and needed to be brought back on track.

For example, let there be a financial risk on a project. In that case, the mitigation action is to increase the in-hand budget so that project cannot possible run out of funds. On the other hand, contingency planning in the same case is the pre-plan partnership with a sponsor if the project runs out of funds and immediate financial input is required to complete the project successfully.

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